As a reminder, the voting for Round 5 of the Title Writing Prompt challenge closes at Noon, Tuesday, August 16th. That’s in 5 days. If you are interested in reading the stories and voting, or if you’ve read the stories and have yet to vote, there’s no time like the present.
You can find the poll and stories links in THIS post.
We had a small bump in votes after the previous reminder, but we’ve since again stalled. I suggest voting as early as possible before all the good votes are taken.
Now, then . . . . AI Digital Art Generators. As predicted, I wasted a bit more time with these tools, and I have some thoughts about them.
Before we get there, let’s begin with NightCafe.
Can you guess the prompt for this creation?
Before I go on, other than the last of my efforat with NightCafe, the images are fairly low-resolution and small because I only enhanced the last one.
Anyway, here’s the prompt I used to generate that image:
rainman detailed matte painting Pendleton Ward detailed painting majolica silver nitrate photo r/Art firey dystopian 8K 3D
You needn’t try to interpret the prompt other than to know I was trying to generate a graphic for my contribution to this round’s title offering, Rainman. The first effort with each generator consisted of just giving the title. The rest of the stuff are things that affect the look of what’s generated.
Obviously, I can’t see much applicable to “rainman” in the above graphic . . . maybe this next prompt might generate something more like what I had envisioned . . .
rainman in arid landscape hyperdetailed photorealism digital illustration 3D shading thunderstorm landscape beautiful
You might notice the photo is smaller . . . that’s because it’s cheaper (in terms of ‘credits’) to generate smaller images and then enhance them if the image meets one’s expectations.
OK, so, again, I don’t see anything even remotely close to what I envisioned . . . time to get more descriptive.
Man standing next to white 1960 cadillac in arid landscape with stormcloud detailed matte painting photorealism 4K .
I changed the description to ‘man’ as opposed to ‘rainman’ because any man next to the car and with stormclouds above would fit the bill.
I can see some of the elements, but it’s still far from what I wanted. Actually, ‘wanted’ is the wrong word. ‘Envisioned’ is a better descriptor, although I didn’t have a clear image of the scene (other than the car).
The problem with this generator is that it’s difficult getting it to do something even approaching realistic. I assume that’s because it’s introducing some of its own parameters as opposed to strictly adhering to the description. There’s a slider for increasing the ‘fidelity’ to the prompt, but it’s clearly not enough.
I tried one more and enhanced it despite it not being what I wanted . . . but it looked interesting. Here’s the prompt:
Rainman next to white 1960 cadillac in arid landscape with stormcloud detailed matte painting photorealism 4K 3D shading landscape.
It appears some of the parameters get applied to portions of the image, but not other portions. The landscape looks realistic, the car less so (but still cool-looking), and the man — if that’s what it is — is reduced to a stick-like representation.
I stopped playing with it because I was running out of credits (you get five free credits per day), and I wasn’t interested in buying credits to generate stuff that, albeit occasionally interesting, wasn’t what I wanted.
So, on to Dream by WOMBO. The advantage of Dream is that (for now) it’s free. It creates what it calls ‘trading cards’ and I output them to include the prompt. That way, you can see the correlation between what I asked and what I got. All of these use “realistic” for style.
Obviously, no matter how I asked, there’s no man in any of those depictions. That said, The first attempt comes pretty close and would be usable as concept art for my story.
Which brings me to MidJourney, the one I had the most hope as far as generating something I might use. The prompt “rainman” generated the following preliminary offerings.
As concepts, if I really had to use something, the first and fourth seem usable, again, as concept art loosely related to the title. I tried a variation to see what else it would generate along these lines . . .
Interesting, but still not what I was interested in . . . I wanted that car included in the art, so here’s my next prompt:
rainman standing in arid landscape next to white 1960 cadillac, thunderstorm in the distance, photorealistic matte painting, detailed, 4K, –ar 16:9
And here’s what I got . . .
Number 1 and Number 3 looked interesting, so I upscaled them (click for larger versions).
Note: I run these through DeNoise AI as opposed to upscaling them to the max. Sometimes it’s Sharpen AI, but the point is that I modify them slightly from what I get from the generator.
Notice the change from the preliminary to the upscaled version . . . more detail, yes, but unwanted detail in some places. I would have liked the cars to look more like the version in the preliminary rendering.
While I was waiting for those, I did a variation that gave me four new preliminary renderings.
We’re getting closer! For one thing, actual human figures (recognizable as such) are in the rendering. I decided to upscale Number 1 and — despite not having a human figure present — Number 4. Here are the upscale versions.
. . . uh . . . okay . . . I mean, they are interesting, but both cars got turned into junkers. Obviously, the rendering took too long and they done rusted.
Number 4, as initially rendered, would have been pretty good had they ‘beautified’ it as opposed to ‘junkified’ it.
I tried another set of variations, and this is what I got.
The variations are going away from what I wanted, so I changed the prompt to include a clean and shiny car . . . .
Man standing in arid landscape next to a clean and shiny white 1960 cadillac, thunderstorm in the distance, photorealistic, ultra realistic, detailed, 4K uhd, –ar 16:9
Well, they done got rid of the man and . . . well, Number 2 might be usable, so let’s upscale it.
If you look closely, there might be a (small) person in the rendering. But, again, they deprecated the car. Not as badly as in the other example, and it still looks somewhat cool, but it’s not as clean nor as shiny nor as realistic as I would like it.
And with that, I decided to stop as I had other things I wanted to try.
Of all of the above, probably the first from Dream comes closest to being usable as a graphic that would go with my story. Some of the MidJourney creations are interesting and even striking, but don’t match the story.
And so we come to my thoughts . . .
We’re a long way from AI replacing digital artists (or photographers) who have even a modicum of facility with Photoshop and other photo processing tools. I grant the AI tools can quickly create occasionally stunning renderings, but they are things in themselves and do not serve the need as expressed.
By that, I mean that once the AI interprets your prompt, it takes a life of its own, and the result is something the AI has done, yes, but it’s not your creation because you had minimal control over it; it’s not the same as directing a paintbrush or other tool to create art.
Think of it as asking for a ham sandwich on wheat bread and getting a Spam sandwich on a bagel; yes, it’s good, magnificent, even, but it’s not what you asked for. It doesn’t have the intent of what you asked for other than in the broadest terms; it’s a sandwich.
That’s my issue with a lot of what is labeled AI.
It’s not AI in the sense that most people would interpret the meaning of AI. It’s artificial, yes, but it’s not intelligent. It has no understanding in the sense that we do. Grossly speaking, it’s accessing a database of objects and using some algorithm to come up with a representation.
It’s fast, and it has a large database to draw from, but it’s not really ‘listening’ to what you’re asking; it’s doing its own thing.
It’s impressive, I’ll give it that, and in that respect, it is generating something ‘new and unique’ . . . but it’s the difference between someone who plays a tune from sheet music and the composer who generates the tune. Someone who plays the tune can create variations (covers), but they’re not generating anything new in the true sense of the word.
I think we’ll get there because in the next evolution (or a few steps beyond the next) you might be able to ‘interact’ in real-time with the tool, much like we now do with Photoshop. Perhaps you’ll have better control over what the AI uses and how it uses it.
Until then, if I want a graphic for my story, I’ll have to assemble the elements myself as I did for the PhotoLab Cover Makeover Challenge . . . but if I’m in a hurry, I might shoehorn one of these creations into filling in.
Here’s a slideshow of the above images in the order presented:
Slideshow of various Rainman renderings (20 images)
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